It started on Wednesday. I had an over-scheduled day of meetings, my mom’s chemotherapy, a luncheon (that I ended up not making it to), blog stuff, patient calls, an interview for local PBS. I moved at a high rate of speed. All the things I did were utterly disparate. There were real highs and some real lows. Roller coaster stomach drops and jittery fingers is just the way I like life, it turns out.
I downshifted for the last event of the day where I met Kristin van Ogtrop, the editor of Real Simple magazine and author of a new book, Just Let Me Lie Down. I introduced myself, told her what I’m sure most everyone does, something like, “I love the pretty magazine…gosh it’s amazing to think about having things organized and lovely, polite and well-mannered…comparatively my house is a dump and I work crazy hours and I love my kids pants off every day.” She mentioned how her house really isn’t all Real-Simple-ized. She said it looks a lot like other peoples’ houses. She said she works a lot. She’s a mom, busied and pulled all sorts of ways.
Her arms looked remarkably well attached though.
Her book (which I’ve not yet finished—don’t point fingers) is about the insanity of working while raising kids and making sense of self-diagnosed neuroses. It’s not advice.
She said things like this:
- I love what I do, I love my family, I live a crazy life. Ditto.
- There are vulnerabilities in my children that I would never write about. Ditto.
- There are lots of boys around me. Lots of sports stuff. Ditto.
- Enjoying your work and your children in life is like how we eat: A hamburger one day, a salad the next and it all kind of balances out. Ditto.
But then she gave me a Mother’s day gift without even knowing it. Unwrapped and raw, clean and short.
She explained that she was an editor, commuted to New York City on the week days, had 3 boys at home, had just written a book. She described her friends and their formula for living and raising, working and sleeping. She echoed something I say to parents in clinic all the time: there is no “right” formula, just one that will work for you.
Then she Fed-Exed the gift my way:
Insanity is okay. It’s great to have more (or less) commitments than people feel you should. It’s okay to live a nutty life and not want to let go of any of your commitments. It’s okay to like it this way.
Part two of the gift occurred this morning. I’ve been giving myself a few stolen hours here and there with the boys. I unschedule the nanny when I am supposed to work. This morning I got 2 extra hours. It was sunny with rigid lines of green and blue outside. We played with trains and airplanes. Everyone ate their breakfast.
Then, for the first time ever after dropping F at preschool, he cried when I was leaving. Although it broke me (I cried later, too), it also made me know that he feels pulled in more than one direction. He adores school, but he too, enjoyed the morning like I did.
Everyone else keeps telling me I can’t do all this. Kristin van Ogtrop and my eldest, F, made me know I can.
A little whiff of insanity is okay by me.
Thanks for the generous gifts, F and Kristin. Happy Mother’s Day.
And thanks to Kelsey at Janet Klinger for the yummy photo.